Illustration of a dark haired woman teaching yoga to a dark-haired woman with a book beside

Tip 10: Trust your guide

Bikram Choudhury (love him or loathe him) is the world’s most infamous yoga instructor who built a wildly successful business based on just 26 yoga postures. So what can Bikram yoga teach us about writing a book?

Ever been for a run only to cop out at the first hill to take a ‘quick breather’ because you’re not quite ‘feeling it today’?

Now imagine trying to get through 26 postures in 40 degrees Celsius, at 40% humidity, all on your own. How many poses do you think you’d pull before you took a break or just walked out of the room?

There is a teacher in a Bikram class for this reason.

Your teacher walks you through the process, explaining what’s to come and what to do.

Your teacher guides and coaches you through the sequence, so that you don’t overstretch and hurt yourself, make up excuses to stop or get sidetracked with other things.

Your teacher offers words of encouragement when the heat is on to get you through the sticky stuff, and ensure you don’t throw in the towel when you feel uncomfortable.

Your teacher will even remind you discomfort is where the benefit is.

This is also how a great editor works.

A great editor is your writing coach, your teacher.

A great editor is side by side with you at every step of your book, problem solving issues with you (not for you), guiding you through roadblocks and holding you accountable to deadlines.

A great teacher/coach/editor is your sounding board, a crucial source of inspiration, honesty and constructive feedback.

As collaboration and networking queen Janine Garner puts it in her new book ‘It’s Who You Know’ (published by Wiley, April 2017):

The right teacher stretches your thinking, challenges your ideas and encourages you to push further because they know that is where the learning happens, that this is the real opportunity for growth, achievement and success.

No Bikram class is run without a teacher, and, I’d say, no book should be written without an editor.

Many best-selling authors also attest to this. David Allen (Getting Things Done) attributes much of his success to his first editor Janet Goldstein. Steven Pressfield dedicated his book Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t to editor Shawn Coyne  (‘who made my career in more ways than one’), and they now run a publishing company together.

Others, like Chris Brogan (an author of eight Amazon best-selling books) say not using an editor early on in his career was his ‘biggest mistake’.

There are thousands of suitably qualified teachers and editors out there, but the right editor adds value to your thinking and your IP – and makes the process fun!

The right editor personalises the journey they are on with you.

The right editor saves you heartache in the short term and becomes your wing-woman or -man in the long term.

The right editor transforms a good book into a remarkable one that is left on clients’ and colleagues’ desks with notes like, “You must read.”

The right writer–editor relationship is built on a solid foundation of trust, honesty, integrity and enjoyment.

So ask yourself this: Who is guiding you through writing your book? Who is your doing your editing?

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Kelly Irving

I’m an editor and writing coach with a love for deep-diving into brains and businesses. Through my one-to-one work and online program, I provide an action-by-action process that speeds up the time it takes to produce your best book, and turns overwhelm and self-doubt into momentum and excitement for writing.


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